Sun. a.m. AGCC 9/29/96
TEXT: Exodus 4:1-5,17
INTRO: More Christians are unfruitful because they believe they are not qualified
to do what God calls them to do! We tend to be looking for something that
will help us feel we can do the job God calls us to do....but that something is
usually something we don't now have.
Satan's fear is not our being a Christian, it is our getting involved in ministry
as a Christian...for if we stay unproductive or sedentary, Christianity will quit
There is no doubt about God's call on our lives...it is a call to be active in
ministry...the question we struggle with is "how to do it".
PROP. SENT: The Bible will teach us that we possess whatever is necessary to do
what God calls us to do, we just need to let Him touch those areas of our life
supernaturally to become effective for Him.
I. RISK OF FAILURE 4:1-3
A. Trial of Acceptance 4:1
1. Moses has returned to Egypt after 40 years of being in the wilderness, his
last attempt at leadership was a flop!
a. God has sent him back to lead Israel....
b. Moses had failed at this earlier
c. Why would they believe him this time?
2. Moses is not struggling with the MESSAGE, he is struggling as the MESSENGER
a. His concern is that they might reject HIM.
b. It is his credibility that he is concerned about
c. his previous record and absence for 40 years would make them cautious
3. This is always the fear we struggle with in doing anything for God:
a. "What if they do not believe me?"
b. "what if they don't think God appeared to me?"
c. Acceptance is such an important thing for us, yet this is the wrong
4. What God was looking for was someone who can handle the difficulties of
leading, a man who knew difficulties, a man like Moses!
ILLUS: Sandhill cranes and geese have something in common, they fly great distances across
continents. The only way they can do this is by doing something remarkable, they fly in a "V"
formation....at the tips of each wing there is added lift for those just behind and extended out
at the end of their wing tip, thus the one in
front does most of the work while those who follow can fly with much less work
required!...it is this that enables them to fly such long distances, but to do
this requires the leader to be strong and to be able to handle turbulence well!
Secondly, those who follow honk constantly to encourage the leader onward. They
will also take turns being in the lead so that the leader when he is tired
doesn't die from exhaustion. They already possess the abilities to lead, it just
takes one of them to do so! The abilities are there, what is required is the
willingness to go to the lead and believe the others will accept that leadership
5. We worry too much about acceptance and not enough about ministry!
a. This was Moses' 3rd excuse to try and get out of God calling him
b. Fear of acceptance can be a great impediment to ministry!
c. These kind of issues keep the Church weak.
B. Trial of Authority 4:2-3
1. Moses was also concerned that they wouldn't believe that God had spoken
a. He was afraid they wouldn't believe that God had authorized him to
come to them
b. His focus however is wrong, it is on him and not on God...if he comes
in God's authority, God will have a way to show the people that authority is there
c. As long as Moses spoke God's word...the authority would prove real!
2. Moses did not know where he was going to prove God's authority in his life,
all he had was the authority of a shepherd's staff!
a. Such a staff was used to guide sheep
b. it was used to extract sheep from crevices and pitfalls
c. it was used to correct sheep
e. This simple shepherd's staff was all the authority Moses had, but once
he lets God touch it supernaturally, it will be all he needs!
3. Moses was not speaking his own stuff, he was being sent to simply say
what God says...that alone is powerful authority!
ILLUS: A family had invited the Pastor and his wife over for
Sunday dinner on a hot blistering day. When all were seated, the man of the
house turned to his 6 year old son and asked him to say grace. The son however
protested with , "but daddy, I don't know what to say!". His
mother then said, "it's o.k. son, just say what you have heard me say!"
Obediently, he bowed his little head as did everyone else and he prayed,
"O Lord, why did I invite these people here for dinner on such
a hot day like this?..AMEN"! It was not the little boy's voice that was
heard, it was the mother's since it was a quote of her words from his little
lips...it carried her authority, not the little boys!
4. God has only one question for Moses' concern over authority... "What's that
in your hands?"
a. Moses already possessed what God needed for Moses to do the job God
was asking him to do!
b. There was just one thing left for Moses to do in order for God's authority
to be real in Moses' ministry:
(1. "Throw it down"... in other words, let go of your own authority!
(2. Throwing it down would indicate a willingness to obey God, thus
letting go of his own authority.
c. As long as Moses held onto his own authority, God's couldn't come through.
5. When Moses let go of it, it became a snake...the symbol of Egypt's authority!
a. The cobra was considered the symbol of Egypt's power and authority, it
was worn on the Pharaoh's headdress.
b. Moses had been reared in Egypt, he had learned Egyptian politics and
c. Moses is now seeing how his own authority is really nothing more than
the authority this world has to offer...and this is poisonous!
6. Moses runs away from this poisonous snake...he was afraid no doubt!
a. in one way this was good...we should run away from this world's authority
b. In another way this was bad however, for he was afraid of Egypt's authority, a luxury he couldn't afford when he had to stand before the
very image of that authority, the Pharaoh!
c. Moses must not run away from Pharaoh...and so God will call him to do
something remarkable with this snake...pick it back up!
II. RESULTS OF FAITH 4:4-5.17
A. Triumph of Accountability! 4:4
1. God now asks Moses to not be afraid and to pick the snake up...and by the
tail of all things!
a. any snake handler will tell you that you never pick a poisonous snake up by the tail, always by the head!
b. to obey God here meant to do things God's way and not Man's!...this is
the test of faith!
2. The simple staff that Moses had thrown away had been supernaturally touched by God, now God wants Moses to pick it up again!
a. It is not that Egypt's training was no good, but God had to transform it
before Moses to pick it up again to use it!
b. When Moses obeys and picks it up, it becomes the shepherd's staff again
in his hand.
c. it looked the same again...but it had now been touched by God supernaturally...this would give it a new authority!
3. It was now the same staff, supernaturally transformed by God's power back
in Moses' hand...this simple shepherd's tool will be used to defeat the armies of Egypt and the power and authority of Pharaoh!
a. This staff was used in front of the Elders of Israel to convince them that
God had sent Moses (see Ex. 4:29)
b. It was used in front of Pharaoh and his magicians (see Ex. 7:8-13)
c. It was used to strike the Nile to turn it into blood in the eyes of all Egypt (see Ex. 7:14-21)
d. It was used to bring up the frog plague (see Ex. 8:5)
e. It was used to bring the gnat plague (see Ex. 8:16)
f. It was used for the lightening and hail plague (see Ex. 9:23)
g. It was used for the locust plague (see Ex. 10:13)
h. Moses was instructed during the Passover to keep it in his hand ready
to leave (see Ex. 12:11)
i. It was used to part the Red Sea (see Ex. 14:16)
4. It now was not just the "authority of a shepherd named Moses", it was the
symbol of God's authority in Moses' ministry!
5. The only difference was that the same staff Moses had always had was now
transformed by God into a symbol of God's authority!
a. Moses had had this staff all along!
b. It wasn't something new that Moses needed to minister, just what he
had already, only transformed and touched by God!
c. Once touched by God, what Moses had all along was not a formidable weapon against the enemy, and a comfort for God's people!
6. All of the hardships of desert life for Moses had made him ready to lead
God's people now that he had God's authority in his hands!
a. These experiences had not been wasted time, they had actually prepared him for the difficult job of leading
b. Rather than weaken him, the 40 years of tough desert living had made
him strong enough to lead!
ILLUS: In hot tropical rain forests, huge plants and trees grow quickly, sometimes almost over-
night! But these trees have soft wood, and they fall prey to insects easily and diseases and
therefore live but a short time. In such a lush environment, the wood fibers grow so fast that
they are too soft to be strong and so they fall over easily as well. However, trees that grow
in rough mountainous terrain where cold and strong winds constantly buffet them have strong
rich grains that make them endure through all kinds of trials. These trees that grow in such
harsh conditions also are the ones that live
7. Moses' first 40 years in Egypt had made him soft, the second 40 in a harsh
wilderness however had toughened him up...he is now ready with God's
B. Triumph Assured! 4:5,17
1. This incident with the staff turning into a snake would happen again, and
it will be this same demonstration of God's supernatural authority given to
Moses that will help him move forward.
a. While Moses had failed 40 years earlier, this time it would be different
b. God's authority would be at work this time, unlike Moses' authority as
a prince in Egypt that he tried before
2. The past would only help establish God's power this time, though Pharaoh
might have thought this was the same Moses, he was in for a surprise!
a. The God that had preserved the baby Moses, would now bring history
into the present!
b. God's authority reaches out over time!
ILLUS: In the 1930's in Stavropol, Russia, Stalin ordered that all Bibles be confiscated and
Christian believers be sent to prison camps. Ironically, most of the Bibles were not destroyed, they were stored in a large warehouse, yet many of the believers were killed or died as "enemies of the state". With the recent dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the fall of communism a CoMission team arrived in Stavropol in 1994 to do ministry. Their request to have Bibles shipped to Moscow was being held up, but someone told them about a warehouse outside of town where confiscated Bibles were still stored. Remarkably, the team was given permission to distribute the old Bibles still in the warehouse, and so they hired several local men to help. One young man, a hostile agnostic, came only for the day's wages...but not long after they had started, he disappeared. He was found in the corner of the warehouse, weeping, a Bible in his hands. Intending to steal it for himself, he had picked up a Bible only to find his grandmother's name on it, of all the Bible he had grabbed that one that once belonged to his
Christian grandmother that had been taken by Stalin so many years earlier! Today that same
Bible is transforming his life..and now others of another generation...God's authority in His
Word cannot be taken away!
3. The first incident of the staff turning to a snake established in Moses' own
mind God's call and authority, the second time before the Elders of Israel
established Moses' call and authority in Israel's eyes, and the third time be-
fore Pharaoh established it before Egypt.
a. Time and time again after this Moses used the "staff of God" to confront
the powers of this world!
b. Each time, Moses was triumphant!
c. Moses had carried that staff all along, he already had it, it just needed
to be touched by God and transformed to be useful!
4. We too already possess what is needed to do what God wants....we just need
to throw it down before God to be transformed by His touch and then we
are to pick it up again and use it for God's work!
5. do you hear God asking you, "WHAT'S THAT IN YOUR HAND?"
a. what's your answer?
b. Has God touched it?
c. Have you picked it up again after he has touched it?
CONCLUSION: So often we feel we need extraordinary abilities to do God's work.
In truth, we all already possess whatever we need to do God's work, we just need
to let God touch it first and then use it!